Jose Mourinho sat down with a collection of English jounalists ahead of Chelsea’s pre-season friendly with Champions League winners Barcelona tomorrow morning. Speaking about a range of subjects from leadership to referees and his managerial rivals, Mourinho had a lot to say.
The full conversation can be found below:
JOSE, YOU’VE SAID YOU NEED TO BE MORE UNPREDICTABLE THIS SEASON. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?
By conceding four goals in 45 minutes! (Chelsea conceded four in the second half against New York Red Bulls last week)
Being more unpredictable is to have different ways to play. With the strikers we have, we can play with two strikers together more than we did before. We have three very good strikers, and all of them with special motivations.
(Loic) Remy wants to go back to the national team and has a Euro (2016) to play in a year in his own country. Diego (Costa) is very frustrated because the last three months of the season were full of frustration and injuries for him. (Radamel) Falcao had a very bad season and is frustrated because people in England don’t know the real Falcao.
All of them are very enthusiastic. And my wingers can play all play very well defensively. (Eden) Hazard couldn’t, but now he can. Willian can; (Victor) Moses, Ramires when they play in the side. We have options to be different and to be more unpredictable. We can create problems for the opposition when they play against us. We can play with two strikers or one, so we have more options.
ON FALCAO, I’M SURE THE SITUATION IS DIFFERENT BUT YOU’VE HAD BIG PLAYERS BEFORE THAT EXPERIENCED A DIP, SUCH AS ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO AND FERNANDO TORRES. HOW DO YOU REBUILD CONFIDENCE?
I don’t have a secret. I just feel it’s a new opportunity for him. He comes after a bad season, but it’s not up to me to speak about it or find the answers for it. I can just say that the analysis we did, and we did a lot of it, showed he is in good condition. We believe he can be very useful for us.
DO YOU DETECT THAT HE WANTS TO PROVE A POINT?
He’s the kind of player who’s proved people wrong all of his career – at Porto, at Atletico and even at Monaco before his injury. It’s easy to feel he’s a very good professional. Even two weeks ago Mr Van Gaal said he has nothing negative to say about him as a person or a professional. He’s a guy who always tries to be ready for the team and ready to work. We believe he can be very important for us.
HAZARD TOOK SOME BAD KNOCKS AGAINST NEW YORK RED BULLS. ARE YOU FRUSTRATED THAT HE HAS TO ENDURE THAT?
You know, pre-season game against a team of kids, highly motivated to get a result and afraid of getting a bad result. To stop people like Hazard, I would never complain about these kids. They were aggressive, really aggressive. A couple of cards were more orange than yellow – I don’t say red – but I would never criticise the Red Bulls kids.
But the Premier League is a competition where last year he was lucky, clearly. He’s getting stronger and stronger, not just in his body, but in his attitude. He’s getting physical, very strong. He’s not the kind of guy who overreacts. After a bad tackle he never rolls and rolls like many players do as a protection to themselves to push referees to make certain decisions. Eden is not this guy. He’s loyal and honest, and gets lots of respect from opponents because of that.
But the reality is that last season he was lucky – let’s see what happens next season. He could have been injured many, many times. He suffered more than a couple of very nasty tackles and that could have been in trouble. I saw lots of players breaking legs and ankles with less than that. I don’t want to say names because it’s not nice. Last season is finished and let’s have a fresh start. I don’t want to say Mr A, Mr B or Mr C, but he had some very nasty tackles last year.
I PRESUME YOU WANT THAT PROTECTION THIS SEASON?
I want but it’s not in my hands. The only I can do is what we are doing and what Eden is doing, which is to work and work and work to be stronger and stronger. I don’t want to change his mentality or personality. I don’t want him crying or overreacting. I don’t want someone touching his shoulder and he reacts by throwing his hands in his face like lots of people is doing now. I want Eden to be what he is – and he’s fantastic.
IS THERE A WORRY THAT HE WILL GET INJURED BEFORE HE GETS PROTECTION?
I hope not. Let’s hope not.
HAVE THE PLAYERS COME BACK AS DIFFERENT PEOPLE NOW THAT THEY ARE CHAMPIONS?
No, no. All good.
DO YOU NEED NEW LEADERS NOW PETR CECH AND DIDIER DROGBA HAVE GONE?
No. In this moment the two captains, if I can say captain, captain, captain, the same way last year we had Drogba, Petr and John, this season I would say this year we have John and Ivanovic.
Ivanovic is more than ready to be a big captain too; more than ready: lots of experience, lots of years at Chelsea, his personality, his character, the respect that he has from the other guys. In John and Ivanovic we have two fantastic captains. And after that we have people that come behind. (Gary) Cahill, lots of years at Chelsea, also vice-captain in the England national team. Good personality, good example.
(John Obi) Mikel is, after John, the guy with most years of Chelsea. I think (Cesc) Fabregas has personality for a captain too. Eden is coming with big status now and was voted one of the top 10 players in Europe last year. In my opinion he should be in the top three not in the top 10. Let’s see what is going to happen but we have these people. But let’s say John and Branislav are our captains and the others are ready to come.
DOES EDEN HAVE THE PERSONALITY TO BE A LEADER?
On the pitch he leads. He is not afraid to take responsibility. He is not afraid to get the team from a dark situation and bring blue sky again for the team. He is not afraid of this. He is a guy with great discipline. He is not the kind of guy you see setting bad examples and so on. So I think he can. His ambition is coming, he is also the vice-captain of the Belgian national team. He has four seasons at Chelsea, so he didn’t arrive yesterday. I think he is in this group. Eden, Fabregas, Cahill are in this group behind the captains.
HOW DOES EDEN IMPROVE UPON LAST SEASON WHEN HE WAS FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR?
Repeat these trophies. To repeat these trophies, I believe he has go to better, because the normal tendency is for people to find another star; to find somebody new to get these individual trophies. But he has all the conditions to improve. With his age he can improve.
HAVE YOU TOLD HIM THAT?
Yes. I told it to all of them, The Medical department too. I told them: ‘You have to be better.’
IS EDEN NOW NARROWING THE GAP BETWEEN HIM, LIONEL MESSI AND CRISTIANO RONALDO?
I think he is the best player in our country. The best player in England. You (the Football Writers) voted him too, the best player in the English Premier League. The Premier League is the top competition in the countries, I think he is in the top players.
Two years ago we reached the Champions League semi-final but he didn’t play. He didn’t play in (Atletico) Madrid, he played injured at home. So he arrived in that crucial moment not in condition.
Last year we did bad in the Champions League and we were out immediately so he also needs a good Champions League. I’m not saying winning but I say a proper Champions League. But he is fantastic.
YOU SAY HE’S TOP THREE IN THE WORLD. THAT PUTS HIM ALONGSIDE RONALDO AND MESSI.
Obviously, depending on the season they have.
MOST PEOPLE WOULD SAY MESSI AND RONALDO ARE THE TOP TWO…
They have to win some titles, no? Football without titles is nothing. Messi won the treble. He won three competitions last year, he reached the Copa America Final. he had a fantastic season for him and for his team.
SO FOR YOU RONALDO LAST YEAR WOULD NOT BE IN THE TOP TWO BECAUSE OF A LACK OF TROPHIES?
I think so. I don’t like players or managers to win individual trophies without the team.
SO BY THAT LOGIC YOU WOULD PUT EDEN ABOVE RONALDO?
Last season, yes. In spite of the fact that Ronaldo was fantastic. He was fantastic. He scored an incredible number of goals. I am not saying he is not fantastic. I am not saying he was not fantastic. I am just saying that, in my personal view, every football player in the world should understand that a team has to be in front and no titles.
HAS WINNING TITLES WITH BARCELONA AND CHELSEA MADE CESC FABREGAS A MUCH BETTER PLAYER?
This guy has won everything. He is a world champion, a European champion. Now he is starting to win titles in England which he didn’t before, but Fabregas is a guy with a very rich career.
WHAT ABOUT YOU – DO YOU STILL RELISH THAT INTENSITY, THAT BATTLE WITH OTHER MANAGERS?
Not with the other managers. My team against the other teams – yes. My team in the competition – yes. I am more than ready.
DOESN’T IT UPSET YOU THAT MANUEL PELLEGRINI DID AN INTERVIEW (OVER THE SUMMER) SAYING THAT WHEN CHELSEA WIN, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU?
No. When a manager is on holidays and even in holidays and still thinks about me and speaks about me, I have nothing to say.
WHY DOES HE DO THAT – IS HE OBSESSED WITH YOU?
I don’t know. In my holidays I did zero interviews. Since I left London, zero.
ARE YOU STILL THINKING?
About football? Yes. But I don’t do any interviews, at least in that time. You are free of everything, questions, answers, controversy, mis-interpretation, overreaction. You are free of everything. My holiday time – zero. If other guys use holiday time also for interviews, it’s their problem.
WHY DO YOU THINK THEY SPEAK ABOUT YOU? WHY DO YOU THINK OTHER MANAGERS GET ANNOYED BY YOU? DO YOU HAVE A THEORY WHY?
No. I finished the season, I went on holiday, nothing. Since I come (back), in relation to other managers – nothing. So until the first one comes, nothing.
WHY DO YOU REFER TO PELLEGRINI AS PELLEGRINO?
Because I had a player called Pellegrino and because there were two in football at the same time, one was Mauricio Pellegrino and Mr Manuel Pellegrini. I always made a mistake by calling one the other. But the last thing would be a lack of respect.
LOUIS VAN GAAL SOLD ROBIN VAN PERSIE AND YOU HAVE MADE BIG DECISIONS TO GET RID OF BIG PLAYERS FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM. IS THAT GENERALLY NECESSARY TO KEEP YOUR TEAM AT THE TOP – THAT RUTHLESSNESS?
I don’t know if ruthlessness is the right word. There are decisions and decisions. There are decisions with a different dimension, the emotional history with the club, the relationship between me and the players. There are not two cases the same. All of them are different.
A meeting with Drogba to decide the best for his career, staying or leaving, staying as the third option, leaving on a super high with another title, staying in the club as an assistant, go and play again, stay in the club in a different role. All this is not the same as a player without the same status, friendship with me, empathy. Two cases are not the same. In the end, the team is much more important than anyone of us.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE SAID THAT HE DIDN’T GET A FAIR CHANCE WITH YOU. IS THAT BEING UNFAIR TO YOU?
Yes because I wanted to keep him. And he told me it was not in his personality to be competing for a position in the team. He needed a team where he knows he can play every game. He needs to know that he is important. He needs a team where he doesn’t have to think: ‘Am I playing or not?’ He needs that trust, he needs that quality. He needs that security. So I was not happy when he left. So yes it’s not fair.
SO HE COULDN’T HANDLE THE PRESSURE OF COMPETING FOR A PLACE?
He didn’t tell me he couldn’t handle the pressure. He told me he didn’t like (it) and that he wanted to play every weekend. I told him: ‘This is Chelsea, you are very young, you have Eden Hazard, you have Mata, you have Willian, you have Schurrle, and I cannot promise you that.’
And the first game of the season against Hull City he played. For the second game against Manchester United away, he played. The third game of the season was the Super Cup in Prague against Bayern. I decided not to play him. For the fourth match, in the Premier League, he was on the bench and he was not happy. He told me he was not happy.
He was not training very well and I was asking for me and he was saying: ‘I can’t give you more. This is just my way.’ So I accept that if this is his mentality and it’s his choice to go, it is better for Chelsea to make a good deal. Chelsea made a good deal and he was happy to go and I am happy because the kid is a good kid. And I am happy for him.
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED HE WAS NOT UP FOR THE FIGHT?
No. Players are players and they have different personalities. I don’t have to speak about him. We move on. We sold him, made our money and it was fantastic because we bought him cheap and sold him for a good price. And now if Wolfsburg, if they make a fantastic deal, that is good for them, for him. I wish him all the best.
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF MANCHESTER CITY’S SIGNINGS AND THEIR RESPONSE TO LOSING THE TITLE?
I think everyone is buying well, there is no reason to buy bad. When you have big money to spend there is no reason to buy bad, you buy good players and you always buy well. After that there is the unpredictability of the game. Sometimes you buy a fantastic player and for some reason he doesn’t play so good as you would have expected. But no big player (club) with a lot of money buys bad players. Everybody is buying very well.
CESC ALWAYS SEEMS TO HAVE A DIP IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON. I KNOW YOU PROBABLY HAVE SOME STATS TO ARGUE AGAINST THAT…
BUT DO YOU WANT TO WORK ON THAT, BECAUSE HE DID HAVE A DIP?
I go match after match. I don’t go into the first match of the season thinking about the fourth or fifth. In August I am not thinking about December or thinking about having a player in a great condition for a certain time of the season. Day by day, week after week, match after match. That is why last season, we were playing so well, so consistent and winning match after match, for so many months without the suspension and important injuries we always had the same team and I am not going to change that philosophy.
ARSENAL HAVE ONLY BOUGHT YOUR SECOND-CHOICE GOALKEEPER AND SEEM HAPPY. ARE YOU SURPRISED BY THAT?
I think they bought a fantastic goalkeeper and that is a position which is very important in a team. Every club is a club and we don’t need to speak about them but if you add up the amounts clubs have spent in the last three or four years, I think maybe you will find a surprise.
If you put (Mesut) Ozil plus Alexis Sanchez, plus (Calum) Chambers, plus (Mathiue) Debuchy you will maybe find a surprise. It’s a fantastic squad; lots and lots of good players, a fantastic goalkeeper. I think they are more than ready to be a title contenders.
SHOULD ARSENE WENGER EXPECT TO CHALLENGE TO WIN THE LEAGUE THIS YEAR?
I think everyone of us. We have five teams who will play for the title, only one will win and one of us will be playing Europa League in two years. That is the reality: five teams for one title and five teams for four Champions League positions. Only one will be champion and one in Europa League.
DO ARSENAL GET AWAY WITH THE IDEA THAT THEY DON’T SPEND BIG MONEY?
This is the easiest thing to do – I don’t do it. Get a calculator. That is the easiest things, it leaves no space for speculation. If you want to be honest, objective and pragmatic it is the easiest job for a manager or journalist to do. If a manager is interested he can do it. I am not. But Diego Costa plus, Fabregas plus Begovic; Schneiderlin plus; Alexis Sanchez plus this one; Benteke plus Balotelli plus this one. It is easy and objective.
YOU WILL SIGN A NEW CONTRACT AND BE HERE FOR THREE OR FOUR YEARS. DO YOU THINK CHELSEA WILL WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN THAT TIME?
I cannot promise. I can only say that when it’s one of the best teams in England, in spite of the conditions which are very difficult for English teams to compete in Europe, every English team in the top four is going to be a Champions League contender. This season we are going to be, I would not say favourites, but we are going to be (contenders). Let’s say I’m going to stay here for four years of my contract. We are going to be Champions League contenders for four years. Let’s see if we can do it or not.
YOUR EXPERIENCE AND RECORD SUGGEST THAT YOU WILL WIN IT EVENTUALLY AT CHELSEA…
If somebody comes in after me in a couple of years, gets a fantastic team and can improve it with a couple of new players and be champion, I’m happy with that too.
HOW WILL YOU APPROACH IT WITH REFEREES THIS SEASON?
The same way as always: understanding the very difficult job they have; having lots of respect; being emotional as always because that’s my way; and accepting mistakes but not accepting a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are a part of the game but a lot of mistakes are not. I’m emotional and this game doesn’t allow us to make lots of mistakes because we are punished for that. Managers, players, referees, we are all punished for a combination of mistakes. It is very difficult to be the perfect but my respect for them is there always.
IF REFEREES MAKE MISTAKES SHOULD THEY GET A SUSPENSION?
A rest. Even to take pressure off them. I’m not a ref specialist but (Howard) Webb is also part of it and he was the best referee in the world. He must be a fantastic coach for them.
DO YOU THINK THE STANDARD HAS IMPROVED?
The game is very difficult. The only thing that improves it for sure is the goal-line technology. No more mistakes, no more Tottenham goals at Old Trafford with (Roy) Carroll, no more goals like Luis Garcia in the Champions League semi-final. That is finished and that is fantastic because that is the crucial part of the game.
The other part is that, the mistakes will be always there. Many of the guys, I like their approach to the game, they want to be positive and want to have a good relationship with the players. I go many times to the dressing room and immediately you can feel good relations between the referees and the captains. They want to co-operate and I think everything goes quite well. But when there is an accumulation of mistakes like we had last season I’m sorry, it’s difficult to accept.
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A CLEAN SLATE THIS SEASON?
Yeah, last season I was never sent off or punished with a ban, I just got fines for comments made for interviews in the press. I was completely clean during the match, very good with the fourth official.
BUT YOU DID THAT INTERVIEW ON TELEVISION THE DAY AFTER THE BURNLEY MATCH AT HOME (AFTER ASHLEY BARNES’S TACKLE ON NEMANJA MATIC WENT UNPUNISHED, BUT MATIC WAS SENT OFF FOR REACTING)?
Because it was too much. But the objective for me is to have a season with mistakes: my mistakes, players’ mistakes, referees’ mistakes. If there are too many mistakes I put players on the bench and I’m sacked! And with the refs, I complain.
DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE A CAMPAIGN AGAINST YOU?
I don’t think there is a campaign. I said after that those words were I would clean. It was just an accumulation of mistakes. You go to Southampton, penalty; they give a yellow card to Fabregas. You go Tottenham, penalty; he doesn’t give it; the aggression on Matic. We had lots of things in the same period and it was too much. But no campaign.
DO YOU THINK DIEGO COSTA WILL GET A CLEAN SLATE FROM REFEREES THIS SEASON?
I would like him to be punished if he deserves to be punished. I would like him to be judged in a negative way if he deserves to be criticised by negative behaviour on the pitch. But if he behaves well I think people have to give him credit for that.